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Wildlife groups sue agencies over assessment on PolyMet mine

January 25, 2022 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A proposed copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota is facing more legal action.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by several environmental organizations alleges that the PolyMet Mining Corp. project threatens critical habitat for gray wolves, Canada lynx and the northern long-eared bats. They say a wildlife assessment on impacts of the mine is highly flawed and decisions based on the study violate the Endangered Species Act.

The 42-page complaint names Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as defendants. Among other things, the environmental groups are seeking to void the June 2018 land exchange between the Forest Service and PolyMet, the Star Tribune reported.

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The suit is the latest of several challenges to the now-stalled $1 billion mine near Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes. PolyMet, based in St. Paul, is majority owned by mining giant Glencore in Switzerland.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday reversed a decision by regulators to issue a water quality permit for the project. It now goes back to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to determine whether any pollution discharges from the mine into groundwater would violate the federal Clean Water Act. The ruling favored the mining company on most other issues.